Category Archives: Recordings

The Marvellous Shaye Cohn: Happy Birthday

The marvellous Shaye Cohn

The marvellous Shaye Cohn

THE talented, beautiful Shaye Cohn of the New Orleans band, Tuba Skinny, has a birthday today 24 November, and I am sure all her myriad of fans world-wide wish her a very happy one!

Shaye’s musical heritage is impressive, and perhaps goes some way to explain her extraordinary talents as a musician (trumpet/cornet, piano, violin), arranger, composer, artist, and I suspect, quiet power which holds the band together.

Granddaughter of Al Cohn, saxophonist with Woody Herman etc. and Marilyn Moore, jazz singer, and daughter of Joe Cohn, guitarist etc., Shaye originally trained as a classical pianist. Where did she go wrong/right!

Here’s a sample of Shaye’s piano style – with Japanese band The New Orleans Naughties in 2010, playing “Lily of the Valley”.

Tuba Skinny have just wound up their latest tour of Australia with a 3 day stint at the Melbourne Festival. Number One member of the Australian Tuba Skinny Fan Club (if there was one) would have to be my good mate Bill Liddy, which he demonstrated by attending all 3 performances, standing in the front row each time, so close that he could read the tune list at Shaye’s feet. Nineteen songs each night with only two repeats.

Bill Liddy

Bill Liddy

He spent some time talking to members of the band – Shaye of course but also the incredible vocalist Erika Lewis, and Todd Burdick, the skinny tuba player whom he met on Princes Bridge last year as he and Shaye were walking to their gig at the Spiegeltent,Todd with his tuba over his shoulder!

When Shaye asked Bill which of the three shows he enjoyed the best, he was hard put to choose, bu did nominate their version of “Willie the Weeper” as the best he’d heard.

The Skinnies have just released their latest CD “Owl Call Blues”, a copy of which Bill bought for me, signed by Shaye. How good is that!! The title track is a joint composition by Shaye and Erika Lewis and is available via the Tuba Skinny Blogspot. Click here for details.

Ivan Huke

Ivan Huke

The British equivalent of Bill Liddy must be cornet player Ivan Huke from Nottingham.

Ivan has a blog called “Playing Traditional Jazz” which is very well worth following since it is written from the musician’s point of view rather than the devoted fan. He is a mad, fanatical devotee of Tuba Skinny and of Shaye Cohn in particular. Read what he said about Shaye recently. His comments on Owl Call Blues are also worth a look.

To close, here Tuba Skinny plays “Dallas Rag” at their usual stomping ground in Royal Street, New Orleans. Wait for the piano solo! Magical isn’t too big a word for it!
Happy happy birthday Shaye!

Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks

LEIGH Barker and his New Sheiks are busy as usual – check out some things they’re doing in November 2014.


First are a couple of great concerts in the Morning Melody series on Monday 17 November 2014, 11.00am and 1:30pm at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road. All Tickets: $20. BOOK NOW By Phone: 1300 182 183 or on line.

Titled Jazz, Tap, Swing with the Melbourne Rhythm Project this is an innovative collaboration between swing dancers, tap dancers and jazz and swing musicians. Presenting a program of uniquely choreographed dances set to classic jazz, swing and blues tunes, award-winning jazz ensemble, Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks, will be joined on stage by tap dancers and lindy hop and swing dancers to whip up a storm of jazz, rhythm and swing from the 1920s through to the 1940s. Featured will be award winning vocalist and violinist Heather Stewart.

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart


Second is a new album launch on Saturday November 15th at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennetts Lane, CBD. $25/20, doors at 8:30pm. Bookings or 9663 2856.

Leigh Barker and his six-piece group, for the last five years touring under the moniker ‘The New Sheiks’ but now equally well known as the musical half of the innovative dance company the ‘Melbourne Rhythm Project’, continue to build on their reputation as one of the most engaging, entertaining and hard-swinging groups currently performing in the Australian Jazz Scene.

Saturday November 15th will see the launch of Barker’s seventh full length release: a CD and digital album titled ‘Flow Like Wine’. Drawn from several studio sources and live sessions during the band’s 2012 and 2013 touring schedule, the album features guest appearances by triple Bell Award winning saxophonist Julien Wilson, piano genius Steve Grant and to top it all off was mastered in New York by the great Rob ‘Wacko’ Hunter, full time sound engineer for all of Branford Marsalis’ various projects. Combined with the regular members Heather Stewart on violin and vocals, Eamon McNelis trumpet, Matt Boden piano, Don Stewart trombone and Sam Young on the drums, this may just be Barker’s most cohesive release to date, says Jason Downes from whose blog I devised, copied, stole! this post. (Thank you Jason)

Ultrafox second CD : Le Bruit des Cabarets (The Noise of Bars)

ultrafxHAVING enjoyed enormously Ultrafox’s debut album (Chasing Shadows), I looked forward with great anticipation to hearing their second CD,Le Bruit des Cabarets. And I haven’t been disappointed!

On this recording the core members of this gypsy style jazz band – one of Melbourne’s busiest and most widely appreciated groups – again demonstrate the level of musicianship that comes from countless hours of playing, and of playing together.

Peter Baylor and Jon Delaney are superb on guitar, sharing the rhythm and solo roles, with Kain Borlase augmenting and driving the rhythm on string bass. They are joined by the amazing Michael McQuaid on tenor saxophone and clarinet, and the ever-eloquent Julie O’Hara on vocals. And as an added bonus, visiting French violinist, Gerard Vandenbroucque brings his elegant and joyous playing to the ensemble. Vandenbroucque is based in Nantes where he leads a quartet, Bleu West.

Gerard Vandenbroucque

Gerard Vandenbroucque

Le Bruit des Cabarets features 16 tracks which range over the many different flavours of the “Hot Club du France” sound. Eight tracks are original compositions by Peter Baylor or John Delaney: the rest are a variety of popular swing tunes by composers ranging from Saranne Ferret to George Gershwin. The original compositions fit very comfortably into the whole, contributing significantly to the overall “mood” of the album. I particularly liked “Pickpocket” and “Brunton
Avenue” by Baylor, and “Sad Song” by Delaney.

The title track refers to a poem by the nineteenth century French poet, Paul Verlaine. On the CD the poem is read, in French, by Christophe Genoux with background music and accompanying “bar ambience”. One English translation of the poem (below) has a Melbourne-in-winter feel about it I think!!

noise of bars

Ultrafox will be launching this new album over the next few months in Melbourne before setting out on a regional Arts Victoria funded tour in August 2014.

To purchase the CD or download, visit the Ultrafox website (I know that downloading is quick and easy, but the physical CD is a thing of beauty in itself, with cover art by Peter Baylor. Who could resist it!)

Before setting off on tour, the band will be playing at the Ballarat Jazz Club, the Paris Cat, Bennett’s Lane and the Spotted Mallard in Brunswick where I am sure the CD will be available. Peter Baylor can be contacted on 0430 484 373 or Email: for further information.

Finally, as a taste of the whole, here is the first track from the album “Pickpocket” composed by Peter Baylor. Click on the playlist below to enjoy it.


Andy Baylor Reeling!!!!

baylor reel
AUSTRALIA’S original roots music maestro, Andy Baylor, is celebrating his 11th independent CD release – REEL OF JOY – at Melbourne’s well-loved Lomond Hotel, corner of Nicholson Street and Blyth Street, Brunswick East on Sunday May 11th from 5.00pm – 8.00pm

Well known for his ability to move between musical styles, Andy Baylor mixes sounds as a painter blends colours. He transforms old songs into new with the kind of feeling and authority that comes from 35 years of Australian music- making and seamlessly interweaves his own new material.

REEL OF JOY is a testament to his love of music. It is a new collection of heartfelt songs and tunes drawn from the deep well of tradition.

A joyous Cajun fiddle reel rolls easily into a classic New Orleans jukebox hit, and on further into one of Andy’s own back-roads country songs. A bittersweet soul ballad is re-cast as a fiddle-driven Cajun waltz. A Spanish love song from days gone by magically re-emerges as a Jamaican dancehall skank. Ballads, blues and country ska grooves move together in time with moody midnight waltzes. A Hank Williams hurtin’ classic sits next to an irresistible dance tune from the Kingdom of Zydeco as if there are no boundaries to musical expression…. And thus the journey continues, like life itself – the reel of joy echoes through the bar-rooms of Melbourne, Sydney and the back-of-beyond. The rhythms resound in the hills and valleys of the Australian landscape and all places in between.

For a taste, here Andy performs the title track from the CD at Tamworth earlier this year. With him are Garry Steel, Warren Earl, Michael Vidale and Ron Mahony.

For the album Andy put together a talented group of Melbourne musicians: Sam Lemann on guitars, Denis Close on percussion, Andy “hillbilly” Scott on bass, Sharkey Ramos on drums, Steve Teakle on accordion, Andy Ogburn on piano and Dale Lindrea on bass.

The music was recorded deep in the heart of Brunswick, Melbourne by Steve Fraser in a disused lingerie factory and captures a warm, live, no frills approach to playing.

Entry to Sunday’s launch is free, food is available, kids welcome.
Musical guests include Denis Close on percussion; Sharkey Ramos on drums; Andrew Scott on bass; Sam Lemann on guitars; Ed Bates on pedal steel.

For more info you can contact Andy on, Mobile: 0407 839144 or

As Andy says:

REEL OF JOY is: heartfelt music picked yesterday, direct from grower, organic, fiercely independent, free of harmful additives, not tested on animals, fair trade, has the heart foundation tick of approval, gluten and dairy free and is available only from Andy Baylor himself .
Support Australian musicians and artists.

Help with rare Julie Wilson CD

BILL Haesler, renowned jazz scholar, is trying to locate a copy of a rare, limited issue CD. Here’s a copy of his email received today. Can you help him track one down?

Dear Jane,
The following request came via the Dixieland Jazz Mailing List several months ago and has just been re-posted, so obviously the initial request was unsuccessful:

Joe Licari, who produced the rare “Julie Wilson in Dixieland” CD that was recorded live at the Algonquin Hotel in New York with his jazz group, is desperately trying to locate a booklet from the CD that he can copy for a reissue. The company which released it in Australia is no longer in business. He has the actual recording and just wants to copy the booklet and notes. If anyone has it, can you contact me privately. Thanks.
Alan Eichler

At the time, I attempted to locate friends with the record, including Kate Dunbar and Bill Armstrong but drew a blank.
My research revealed that the CD was released in 2009 and was an exclusive, limited release, Australian production.

“Julie Wilson in Dixieland” – Julie Wilson. Showtune Records CD 0005.

Attempts to contact Showtune here failed, and its site is inactive.

Neither the Victorian Jazz Archive nor NSW Jazz Archive have a copy.
Perhaps, a subscriber to your wonderful and informative Jazz Ramble site can help.
A Very Happy New Year.
Keep up the good work.
Very kind regards,

Incidentally if you’re interested in becoming a member of the Dixieland Jazz Mailing List – fascinating world-wide conversations on “traditional” jazz – here’s how to go about it:
To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body ‘help’ to

Jazz Piano back @ The Rosstown in 2013

THE NEW YEAR starts, and with it the return of the bi-monthly piano lunches at the Rosstown Hotel on the corner of Dandenong and Koornang Roads, Carnegie. Bookings: 9571 1033. Enquiries: Marina Pollard 9781 4972.

This is the 19th year that the Rosstown has hosted these piano events (beginning in 1994, although the original lunches stretch back to 1987, when they were held in various locations). At the Rosstown they are held on the last Thursday of the month, in alternate months starting in January.   If that’s all too hard to cope with, here are the dates for the 2013 series:
January 31
March 28
May 30
July 25
September 26
November 28

On Thursday January 31 from midday until about 4.00pm you can be entertained by a group of Melbourne’s top jazz pianists which may include on any given day, John Adams, Graham Coyle, Kim Harris, Keith Stevens, Neville Turner, Michael Llewellyn, Jo Abbott, Ron Anderson, Jeff Bartrum and Kathy Connor.

Here’s the legendary Graham Coyle playing on a cold winter’s day last year.

A guest musician often accompanies the pianists. On 31 January the guest will be well-known trumpeter, Graeme Steel.

Graeme has been on the Melbourne jazz scene for over 50 years. He has worked with many of the top players, and has earned a reputation as one of the more reliable jazz players, equally at home in Modern, Mainstream, Dixie and Traditional styles. He is a popular choice as a backing player to singers Pippa Wilson, Anita Harris, Patsy O’Neill and Beverley Sheehan.

See Graeme in an uncommon pose – on Puffing Billy – with Mike Edwards, Noel Dollman and Neil Taylor as the Mast Gully Quartet which plays jazz for diners on the historic steam train 4 times a year. If you are interested in a unique experience – jazz, dining and scenery – visit the Puffing Billy site. The first dining journey for 2013 is on Friday 15 March.

The Mast Gully Quartet on Puffing Billy

And while we’re in a piano mood, a way to hear some of Australia’s jazz piano greats all together in one place, you can’t go wrong with the Victorian Jazz Archive’s 2 CD set, “The Pianists: a showcase of Melbourne’s Jazz Pianists, 1993”. The genesis of this set was a marathon recording session in August 1993 organised as a fundraiser for The Victorian Jazz Musicians’ Benefit Fund. Fourteen of Melbourne’s top pianists – Stephen Grant, Ben Johnston, Rex Green, Bob Sedergreen, Doug Rawson, Graham Coyle, John Adams, Kim Harris, Margie Lou Dyer, Frank Gow, Stan Spragg, Merle Phillips, Frank Milne and Dave Eggleton – played tunes of their own choice. Sadly several of these musicians are no longer with us.

The 40 tracks on this set are a permanent tribute to the talents and various styles of some of our best piano men and women. You can order online from the VJA website, or by phone on Tuesday or Friday, 9800 5535 or by email.

Ultrafox ultra gigs in January

ONE of my favourite CD acquisitions in 2012 was Peter Baylor’s band Ultrafox’s “Chasing Shadows”, so when Peter turned up at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel as part of the Riverwalk Trio a few Sundays ago, I asked him to play and sing one of the tracks from the album.
We settled on “I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight” (Music by Walter Donaldson; Words by Gus Kahn. c. 1925). He did a great job, but I didn’t!   Murphy’s Law dictated that I pressed the “stop recording” button instead of the “record” so missed a very pretty performance.  So when Peter turned up the next Sunday – 30 December – I apologetically begged him to do a repeat, to which he graciously agreed but the pressure of the moment must have got to him, and he forgot the words!  And no, I’m not going to show you that clip!  Here instead is the track from the album. (Just click on Peter to hear it)

All this is leading up to a couple of great gigs which Ultrafox will be presenting during January.

On Friday 18th January they will be performing at Bennetts Lane, 25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne.   Book on 9663 2856 or online at 8.30pm. $25 + $2.50 booking fee.
The lineup will be as usual except that Andy Baylor will not be playing, and Steve Grant (piano accordion) and Michael McQuaid (clarinet) will be special guests.

On Friday 25th January they will be at the Paris Cat, 6 Goldie Place, Melbourne.    Book on 9642 4711 or online at 9.30pm. $20.    Michael McQuaid will be special guest.

Both performances will naturally feature the ineffable Julie O’Hara with her special brand of vocals.

Ultrafox presents the finest in Le Jazz Hot.  French gypsy jazz in the infectious style of Django Reinhardt and The Hot Club of France.  Be entertained by Peter Baylor, Julie O’Hara, Jon Delaney, Kain Borlase, and special guests Steve Grant and Michael McQuaid.  You can get more info on the band and their upcoming gigs from their website: .  And why not treat yourself to a post-Christmas present of a copy of “Chasing Shadows”.

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Bell Award for Best Traditional Jazz Album: Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks

Leigh Barker at the Bell Awards

Leigh Barker and the Bell Awards

IN MAY 2011 Leigh Barker was awarded the Australian Jazz Bell Award in the ‘Best Traditional Jazz Album’ category for his CD – THE NEW SHEIKS – with his six-piece band of the same name.

The New Sheiks

The New Sheiks CD

‘The New Sheiks’ CD and band feature Leigh on the double bass, Eamon McNelis on trumpet, Don Stewart on trombone, Matt Boden on piano and piano accordion, and Al McGrath-Kerr on drums. The CD also features renowned Melbourne blues singer, Heather Stewart. In 2011 Heather won the ‘Vic/Tas Blues Awards’ for best debut album and best female artist, and in 2010 won the award for best self-produced album.

Leigh Barker

Leigh at the Amora Riverwalk Hotel, Richmond with Smithy's Trio

LEIGH has been adapting the early blues material and combining it with jazz and compositions from the other band members, to create a mix of Jazz, Swing and Blues that is unique and accessible.

EAMON is well known to jazz audiences around Australia, and is a master of all styles of the trumpet from the history of jazz. In 2010 he won the ‘National Jazz Award’ at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.

DON STEWART has played around the world with the finest traditional Jazz groups, including the Graeme Bell band and Fireworks Jazz. He is also a member of popular Melbourne group ‘The Band Who Knew Too Much’.

Pianist MATT BODEN lives in Paris but is originally Tasmanian. His dedication to swing and real acoustic music means that he plays a piano accordion when there is no piano available.

Drummer AL MCGRATH KERR has played with many Australian greats and also opened a concert for Cuban piano master Chucho Valdes in 2010.

CD Baby You can buy a copy through CD Baby (click on the image to the left), through reputable shops such as Readings in Carlton, Basement Discs in the City, or a new boutique music chain called Title with stores in Fitzroy, Northcote and Brunswick. Or straight from the horse’s mouth by emailing Leigh

Barker has toured Australia extensively, usually with a Quintet. In 2010 he was asked to be the support act for jazz superstar Branford Marsalis, which culminated with Leigh performing an encore with Branford at the Sydney Opera House.

Barker with Branford Marsalis

Barker with Branford Marsalis

In other guises Leigh played with George Washingmachine at the Victorian Jazz Club gig on 19 November 2011, and with Hetty Kate and The Irwell Street String Orchestra on 12 November 2011 for the same club

Here’s a clip from the Washingmachine gig. With George are Andy Swann on drums (recently returned from touring Europe with The Syncopators), Leigh Barker on bass, and Sam Lemann on guitar. There’ll be more of this ineffable performance in a later post.